An old friend of mine is thinking about going for baby number two.  After a bad day she posted on Facebook how she wasn’t sure she could cope with two.  She was bombarded with comments from people saying the second is much easier, she should go for it, she has nothing to worry about.  I couldn’t help but think when someone is doubting their abilities as a mum, telling them it is easy isn’t very helpful.  I sent her a personal message to say that having two is hard work.  there is always someones needs to meet and they are seldom yours.  Time is a precious commodity that you never have enough of.  I constantly wonder if  I am doing the right thing as a parent and sometimes I get it wrong.  But the fact that I am worrying and challenging myself means that I am trying my best.  And that’s what counts.  Some days I’m a great mum.  Other days not so much.  But I always try to be great, and I quite often have a little cry after the days that I am not so much.  But I wouldn’t change a single thing.  Baby O has completed our family and it was the best decision we ever made.

My friend sent me some flowers after receiving my message because I reassured her that she wasn’t the only one that has days where she struggles.  I was honest.  I hadn’t realised my little message would help her so much, I am happy it did.  But it got me thinking that maybe we should all be more honest as mums.

I never realised when I was pregnant for the first time that the ‘motherhood club’ I was joining would be so competitive and judgmental.   It starts before you’ve had a chance to catch your breath from pushing out a tiny person.  Breast vs bottle.  It’s like these two exclusive clubs and you can only be a member of one, and the two are mortal enemies.  Think Capulets and Montagues, Oasis and Blur, Coke or Pepsi!

Here’s my first confession, I didn’t enjoy breastfeeding.  It didn’t feel like the most ‘natural’ thing in the world.  It felt awkward and difficult.  I persevered for 5 weeks with both my sons and then we switched to the bottle and life in our house became much happier.  I don’t think breast is best and I don’t think bottle is best.  What’s best is whatever suits you.

There are other absurd clubs that require exclusive membership, Stay at home mum vs the working mum, dummy vs thumb.  Don’t join those clubs.  And for the record I always liked Oasis and Blur.

As you emerge from the newborn fog and begin to make your way in the world as a ‘new mum’ you meet lots of other mums along the way.  Some of whom will become your closest friends and confidants.  Others you will learn to recognise and avoid from a polite distance.

There’s Perfect Mum who always looks like she has stepped out of a salon, and her precious off spring have never thrown a tantrum, which she will helpfully tell you as she looks with disdain at your child led kicking and screaming on the floor because you wouldn’t let him eat the fluff covered gummy bear that he found on the floor.  Perfect Mum will always make you feel inadequate.

Then there’s Competitive Mum, Her little Daisy will do everything weeks before your precious bundle and will of course be sleeping through from day one.  She will talk constantly about her little ones latest achievements and is a walking encyclopedia on which pushchair to buy.

But perhaps the worse kind of mum is the Know-it-all Mum, the one who offers advise when you don’t need it, and actually their advice can make you feel ten times worse about a situation.  They are incredibly hard to avoid, and they can sense when you are at your most vulnerable.  I’ve known a few of them and their advice / opinion has ranged from absurd to terrifying.

One of the most absurd was when H was about six months old grizzling because he was tired.  Know-it-all Mum said “he’s jealous of my little boy because he has a dummy.” What the!!! The most terrifying was when H was 11 months and had developed a fascination for drawers.  He loved to open and close them.  As a sane mum I know he was exploring his environment and learning.  However one Know-it-all Mum told me it could be because he has autism.  Cue sane mum browsing the internet for signs of autism and worrying herself unnecessarily.

Which kind of brings me to my point.  We are all in the same club.  We are all learning as we go.  And although we are not allowed to admit it sometimes we have bad days, sometimes we really need some time out and to pee on our own.  And on those bad days we all need a friend who says, hey I’ve been there.  You are normal.  More empathy and less advice.  Those people who say it get’s easier are liars.  It just changes there is always a new challenge or worry with every stage of childhood.  I think we become more confident as mothers with time and experience, but maybe we should be less hard on ourselves and each other.  At the risk of sounding very hippy like ‘where is the love people’?

“Having a bad day doesn’t make you a bad mum”




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Claire Kirby

14 Comments on The dog eat dog world of motherhood

  1. I appreciate your honesty here! I don’t think I realized how dog eat dog motherhood can be before I became a mother. I guess I expected it to be more supportive. It also has taught me to have a lot more grace for others. Before you have kids, it is easy to look down on the mom with the child throwing a tantrum in the store, but now I just think and say, “I feel ya!” I know I really struggle with the competitive mom. There is one at my church who I want to like. But she is always bragging on her daughter who is a slightly older than ours. And she always seems to pop up with her “well-behaved” daughter when mine is throwing a tantrum! 😉 I wrote a little bit about this myself the other day .

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  3. Totally true! I really wish those ‘sides’ didn’t exist. We should all be in it together. Supporting one another through difficult times. Not judging and getting one over on each other. I enjoyed this post. Thanks.

  4. So true. We all need to be a lot more honest about how hard parenting can be and a lot slower to tell other people how good we are at it (and how they should just do what we do….).

  5. Thanks for sharing your thoughts. It’s a shame when motherhood gets judgemental and competitive; ultimatley, we’re striving for the same thing, aren’t we? We want our children to have the best experience of life they can, and we want to do our best to help them on this road.

    I suppose the know-it-all mum is just eager to help, the competitive mum is perhaps eager to show her pride in her brood, and the perfect mum is confident about how well she handles motherhood.

    Perhaps, it all depends on how we look at it.

    Whatever the case maybe, I’m glad your friend has you to share your experience of a less rosy and more realistic picture. It’s bril to have real support on this wonderful but challenging road of parenthood. 🙂 #aNoviceMumTwitterfeed

    • There’s days when you can shrug it off and not let it bother you. But there’s days when you might be worrying about something or a little sleep deprived that someone else’s comments can send you reeling.

      I think second time round you have much more confidence to handle it and the ability to surround your selves with like minded people.

  6. It’s such a shame that we aren’t honest with each other when it comes to motherhood. I am so lucky to have friends that I can turn to and tell them when I find it hard. There are days when my kids annoy me or I want to be alone for a while, and my friends understand that. It is hard sometimes, and thats okx x x

  7. Awesome post! You’re spot on with the more empathy, less advice idea. Motherhood can be crazily hard and it is not made easier by mums who pretend they are perfect at it, honestly I don’t buy it. We all have good days and terrible days! I cant believe the advice that mum gave you about playing with drawers meaning he has autism! Bonkers! Love this post!! Xx #brilliantblogposts

    • Thanks for your comment. I am quite new to blog writing so appreciate any feedback. Hope you are enjoying life with your little one and are getting through the sleepless nights. x

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